Monday, August 31, 2009

Harmonization or Prohibition

My first Addictions and Cravings class we were showed a video of an Australian show that was openly discussing drug use. On the show was teenagers who were either users or nonusers of drugs, parents of individuals who had overdosed and subsequently died of drug use, and researchers of drugs. Unfortunately, there was no government official present despite an invitation. The debate was centered around the idea of whether illegal drugs should be made legal through the process of harmonization where the government practices control of the drugs and the use of them or if prohibition of illegal drug use should be continued. The teenagers, especially two girls, argued that the drug use among their friends and fellow party goers was largely underestimated and in fact the majority of party goers are drug users. They defend their so called "recreational drug use" (this is what they called going out 2-3 times a week and using drugs each time) because they believe that it is a lot better, safer, and more convenient then drinking alcohol. They believe they practice in a recreational manner because they took the drugs "safely" meaning they only accepted drugs from people they knew and only took the drugs around people they knew. Despite the fact that I completely disagree with their point of view, I am in support of harmonization. The parents argued obviously for continued prohibition and the researchers were seemingly in between. Because I am in support of harmonization does not mean that I support drug use. I, in fact, do not use drugs and do not believe that anyone should use drugs regardless of whether or not that person is an addict or a recreational drug user. For this. . .I will be using the term recreational drug user as an individual who occasionally uses like the girls. They use the drug but their lives do not center around it, they are not dependent on it. Addicts are individuals who's lives center around the use of the drug, they are desperate to get their hands on it and will go to any length to get some.

Let's start with the ads against drugs that are displayed by the government as a No Tolerance Policy on drug use. The parents on the show felt that the ads are not targeted towards the teens and the drug users. Instead these ads are targeted to the parents, encouraging them to become involved in the lives of their children to ensure their safety and non drug use. The teens felt that these ads were also not targeted towards them because they think the ads are targeted for novice users, individuals who have just started or who have yet to start and are considering it. Both teens and parents do not feel they are successful in their goals. The teens just see the ads as shock tactics and that they are unrealistic, possibly as a result of their invincible and "this will never happen to me" attitudes. The consensus was that they just are working as effectively as they should be, that they were a waste of time and money. Personally, I believe the ads are not working as effectively as they should be either. I do believe that they are having an impact on keeping those novices away through the use of shock tactics and information on what could happen, but I believe that teens are in the mindset of whatever you tell them no to do, they are just going to go out and do. They could almost be seen as challengers to teens in the sense that they encourage them to prove the statistics wrong and demonstrate that they really are "invincible" and that the results that were shown in a commercial really aren't realistic. I do not think we should stop using them by all means, I just think we need something else to help out. Basically the sense of confidence and invincibility in the recreational user and drug addicts is not going to change as easily as a shocking ad. You have to wonder, exactly what will it take for them to realize the true consequences of their behavior?

Did you know that marijuana is seen as the safest drug to use? It is easily identified as a "soft drug". Unfortunately it is much more damaging then a lot of people realize. In fact, habitual use of the drug can result in psychosis. that

Now to my argument for harmonization. I believe the government should maintain the use of drugs after decriminalization. Age limits, amounts available, purity, what is in the drug, comorbid use can all be regulated among RECREATIONAL USERS ONLY. I do not ignore the fact that although it would be nice to remove all the drugs from the streets and hands of gangsters, the control is still a business. Whoever has the cheapest is where the ADDICTS will go to. Despite the fact that there will always be the street drug dealers, I am relying on the fact that recreational users will not trust the street drug more than they will trust the government drug. Although they know the consequences of taking the drug, the drug they will be given will be "SAFER" in the sense of purity, because it is CONTROLLED. Recreational users will have the added assurance of a pure drug from a safe source. I also realize that it is a slippery slope between recreational use and addiction, but even though I can not come up with my personal ideas on how to regulate that I'm sure something could be managed. I also realize that because there is money behind it and because wherever their is money, people will do whatever they can to get their hands on it, dirty pills will still make it into the government regulated system. I believe that because those individuals who would be behind this scheme would be more concerned with the amount of money in the long run so instead of not caring what is actually in the drug in terms of purity like gangsters and only focusing on the amount of money they can make, I believe the government officials will allow only a certain amount of dirtiness if you will to enter into the purity. I think the government will be more concerned of maintaing their customer case rather than killing them so they will be very careful about their mixing. Government control will ensure that people know what they are taking. Recreational users will not go to gangsters despite the cheaper offerings because they can not be sure of what is actually in the drug being sold. Addicts will go anywhere and to anyone so they are not considered.
We have regulated the use of tobacco. We have regulated the use of alcohol. We have regulated the use of cigarettes, in 1960 60% of the male population alone smoked, after regulation now only 18% smoke. We regulate gambling to a certain extent. I believe that we have successfully reduced the rates of these problems by regulating them so what's so wrong with at least TRYING harmonization. I'm not looking to eliminate drug use. I strongly believe that as long as the world produces the necessary ingredients to create drugs, we will always have them. I am looking to reduce the drug use problem. Prohibition, is not working at it's current state. I am definitely not saying that it won't ever work but it's not currently working so why not try something else? With new government regulation, means a new government branch, which in turn means MORE NEW JOBS. I'm just saying. . .[=

If you do not agree. . .feel free to tell me why. If you do agree. . .feel free to tell me why. If you have any suggestions whether to enhance harmonization or prohibition feel free. Mark and I have discussed this a great deal and I'm sure I have left out a lot, especially the side of against legalizing illegal drugs but hey I'm biased what can I say?!?! Lol. . .I'm definitely open to different points of view though.

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